Lord, Here Comes the Flood

(song: Here Comes the Flood/artist: Peter Gabriel)

Back in 2008, my hubby and I were invited to a black tie wedding. As usual, I ordered a ton of dresses to try on at home - at 193 pounds, shopping in public was not comfortable for me - finally settling on a size 16 cocktail dress that I hoped would accentuate the positive {big boobs} and eliminate the negative {big everything else}. I crammed myself into two pairs of Spanx and one pair of control-top pantyhose and felt fairly confident as I stepped out for a fun night in New York City.

So what if I couldn't breathe? Nothing jiggled.
I was having a really fun night. Lots of laughing and eating and drinking and dancing. I love to dance. I'm terrible at it, but I love to do it. So you can imagine my delight when the the House of Pain hit "Jump Around" started. Now, I don't know about you, but when I am instructed to "get out your seat and jump around", I do as I am told. As I hoisted my large body up and down, I felt a gush of warmth trickle down my thunder thigh. I looked down at the floor and sure enough, I had peed. On myself. On the floor...a few drops that my husband assured me "just look like sweat". I ran to the bathroom and threw away the pantyhose and one pair of Spanx - the outermost layer was dry enough and I wasn't going commando for the rest of the night. I was mortified. 

Before the flood...

In 2010, after losing 40 pounds, I bought some sessions with a personal trainer. During the warm-up at my first session, he gave me a jump rope and started the stop watch. It only took about 10 seconds for me to pee in my shorts. Once again, mortified. It was time to take action.

I called my gynecologist and was referred to urogynecology specialist, Renuka Tyagi at Weill Cornell Medical College. It was here that I would learn that I suffer from stress incontinence, and that I was not alone. Over half of all women experience incontinence at some point in their lives. Some more severe than others. (I have a friend that pees every time she sneezes. You know who you are...) Mine, like many women my age, was likely caused by childbirth. When one pushes a small human out of her hoo-ha, things tend to shift. Here's a much more scientific explanation if you're interested. At the time of the dance floor incident, I didn't realize I had this condition, because I wasn't jumping on a regular basis. It was only when I started exercising, that I realized I was doomed to an eternity of Poise pad purchases.

I never enter the gym without them...

Dr. Tyagi explained my options. One was to undergo a small surgery, but she made it clear that while the surgery has a very high success rate, I had to decide if I was going to have more kids because childbirth can undo the surgery. Option B was to go to vagina physical therapy - yes, there are physical therapists that specialize in vajayjay exercise. At the time I was not 100% committed to having an only child, so I chose B. I never went to VPT because the office was so unorganized and I was frustrated by the hoops they made me jump through just to get appointment, so I began my own regimen of pelvic exercises. These have helped tremendously, but I still can't do high-intensity jumping without leaking. I will likely choose to get the surgery one day. For now, I can survive with Poise pads and a good sense of humor.

If you aren't lucky enough to have access to vagina physical therapy.

Why am I sharing this? Because we should be able to talk about it! Most women won't address it at all because it's embarrassing. But in many cases, educating ourselves about pelvic exercises will significantly reduce or remove the problem. We all burp, pass gas and poop. And some of us pee during Zumba class. Maybe my sharing will inspire a silent sufferer to get help. You're not alone, and it's a really simple thing to address. So call your doctor and rediscover the joy of sneezing without peeing!

One last thing. As if wetting myself on the dance floor wasn't embarrassing enough, later that night, I would be photographed with full-frontal nipple exposure.

It just wasn't my night.